According to the National Institute of Health, over 25 million adults in the United States (over 11%) experience pain every day for a duration of at least 3 months. What’s more, almost 40 million adults in the United States (over 17%) experience severe pain. Experiencing painful conditions is something that many of us live with each and every day. Nonetheless, it not only takes a physical toll of our health, but a mental and emotional toll as well. It’s crucial to our well-being and to our quality of life that we have the resources and support needed to manage our pain. Let’s explore several reasons why you shouldn’t ignore chronic pain.
Chronic pain 101
Chronic pain is pain that sticks around past the average healing time from a particular injury or illness. Physicians define chronic pain as pain that last or recurs for a period of 3 to 6 months or more. Worldwide, it’s estimated that 20% of people live with chronic pain. It can be caused by numerous factors. A few types of common chronic pain are:
How to tell if you’re suffering from chronic pain
On paper, pain is a good thing. It’s the reason you quickly move your hand away from a hot object or something sharp. This type of pain prevents additional injury. But when it sticks around and challenges your day-to-day life, that’s when you have a problem.
There are many things that may cause chronic pain such as an injury that doesn’t heal properly, joint and muscle deterioration or something that causes that pain-signaling system to break down. At the end of the day, you’re left with varying levels of discomfort that disrupt your daily life.
When you should see a doctor
The simple fact is that if you are experiencing chronic pain then you need to speak with a doctor about it. Many people try to manage chronic pain themselves, but without the right medicine and regimen, you may actually be doing more harm than good. It’s also possible that your doctor’s initial diagnosis may have been wrong so you might not be getting the type of help and treatment you need.
This occurs frequently with back pain where it may be difficult for your doctor to identify exactly where your pain is originating from and why. For example, it could be a spinal cord injury, nerve damage or disc disruption. Whatever it is that’s causing your pain, your doctor may refer you to specialists and/or run several types of tests from blood work to x-rays to get a more complete picture of your health. This can help her rule out other concerns as well.
Why you shouldn’t ignore chronic pain
More than anything, you shouldn’t ignore chronic pain because it may be a sign of an underlying and often serious health problem. For example, the CDC found that more than 200,000 heart attacks and strokes could be prevented each year through better medical attention. How does this relate to chronic pain? Consider that such is the case with many of the causes of chronic pain. From diabetes to migraines and even unexpected complications from surgeries, it’s vital to your well-being to recognize and speak up when something hurts. It’s about taking charge, learning to manage and alleviate the pain and gaining a comprehensive understanding of your short term and long term health.